HOW TO SHORTLIST YOUR INTERIOR DESIGNER

You’ve decided to hire an interior designer for your latest project. You know you’re going to need a professional who presents themselves professionally, works well with your other contractors, and has the skills and expertise needed to deliver results you want. But how do you find the right designer? Here are our top five tips for making the right choice:

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH

It’s important to spend time researching the design firm you’re considering hiring. A great way to learn about a designer is by looking at their website, portfolio and social media pages. You should also check out any blog posts or articles they’ve written (that are available online) so you can get a better idea of the type of work they do for clients in your industry or field.

  • Look for an expert who fits with your aesthetic preferences.

When it comes down to it, hiring an interior designer is similar to hiring someone else in any other field: You want someone whose personality meshes well with yours and whose work aligns closely with what you’re hoping will be produced by them (in this case, it’s interior decor). Make sure that person can meet those standards before making any final decisions on whether or not he or she should join your team!

  • SCHEDULE AN INITIAL CONSULTATION

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to two or three designers, it’s time to schedule an initial consultation. This is a chance for both parties to get acquainted and see if they’re a good fit for each other. Here are some things you should do during this meeting:

Be sure to set aside enough time in order to go over everything thoroughly!

Ask them about their portfolio and references (we’ll talk more about these later). This way you can get a sense of what kind of work they’ve done before and whether or not their style aligns with yours.

Discuss their design process with them—what does it look like? How does it differ from other designers’ processes? What are the steps involved? Is there anything unique about how they work with clients? What tools do they use most often during the design process? How many meetings do they typically need in order to create an initial floor plan or sketch of what the finished product will look like before starting construction on the home itself; etcetera…

  • ASK FOR A (PERSONAL) PORTFOLIO

A portfolio is an important part of the design process, and it should include photos of previous projects. You can learn a lot about your potential designer by seeing their work. For instance, if you have any specific requirements or inspirations in mind, you’ll be able to see if they have experience with them. If not, they may not be the right person for you.

  • LOOK FOR REFERENCES IN THEIR PORTFOLIO

When you are shortlisting your interior designer, it is important to look at the references they have. Here are a few things that you should look out for when looking at their portfolio:

The portfolio should be current and up-to-date.

There should be a variety of projects in the portfolio. This shows that they have experience with different types of interiors and homes, which is important because every project is slightly different.

The style of their work should be consistent throughout their portfolios; there shouldn’t be an obvious shift from one style to another. If this happens, it may be because they haven’t been able to fully establish themselves as an interior designer yet or because they’re still trying to figure out what works best with their clients’ preferences so far as style goes (and either way can result in poor work). Either way, it’s best if they stick with one particular design language throughout all of their projects so that consistency isn’t an issue! If a potential client has any doubts about whether or not this will happen then he/she might want someone else instead.”

  • CHEMISTRY

Chemistry is a real thing. It’s not just about personality and how you feel when they’re around, but it’s also about mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual understanding. If you don’t have chemistry with your interior designer then it won’t work out well for either of you in the long run.

As an example:

Respect for their expertise – They know what they’re doing (and have been doing it for years) so show them some respect! Ask lots of questions, listen carefully to what they say; ask them to elaborate on things that don’t make sense to you right away…and above all: trust them!

Mutual trust – If you don’t trust each other then there will be no working relationship at all! Trust that they’ll do their job well; trust them as professionals who know what they’re doing; trust them as individuals who are kind and compassionate people…and lastly: trust that if something goes wrong (which happens sometimes), it won’t be intentional or malicious on their part!

IN CONCLUSION:

Hiring the right interior designer is critical to the success of your project. By following these tips, you can find someone who is a good fit for your vision, understands your needs and budget, and also fits your personality. We hope our insights have been helpful along the way!

What should you invest on in your new home?

As an interior designer & a new home owner, we are too familiar with the hefty price tag that comes along with a beautifully renovated & decorated home. Hence, we decided to let everyone know what we will be spending on in our new home, from an interior designer home owner point of view!

1. Quality bathroom tiles

If you are like us, who spend a lot of time in the bathroom and enjoy a luxurious bath, then you need to invest in beautiful bathroom tiles. Why? Because changing them in the future is a pain in the butt. It will be dusty, noisy, it will take about a week or two just to simply retile the bathroom. Not to mention extra cost will be incurred for plumbing works.

2. Kitchen cabinet & kitchen table top

A good kitchen is not only well planned functionally, it must also be beautiful visually. As MOST kitchen cabinets are built-in, be extra carefully when planning your kitchen! Do also share with your designers how you usually use your kitchen and the type of cuisine you cook. There also many kitchen accessories in the market that really improves your efficiency in the kitchen!

3. Furniture & equipments

Furniture is a good place to invest your money in. A good piece of sofa can last for a long time. Moreover, furniture can be brought with you should you decide to move! Having said that, it is recommended to get a more generic looking sofa that is flexible in terms of style. For example, Box Sofa will be able to fit into a Scandinavian theme interior as well as a Modern Contemporary theme house!

Some of you might think it’s not worth it to pay a premium for equipments. While that might be the case for some, we do believe that premium equipment pay for themselves in the long run! We have had clients who bought a Miele clothes steamer, and it lasted them for over 20 years! It all boils down to individual needs when it comes to equipment. If you are a baker, it make sense to get a better oven!

Above mentioned are just our personal opinions! Of course there are people who see value in getting more built-in cabinets. There are also people who see more value in flexibility. Ultimately it is your own home! You should invest in what you feel right! Lastly, the most valuable thing you can invest in, is engaging a good interior designer to help you out.

What are Variation Orders? And why do they exist?

Okay, so by now everyone should have heard horror stories about the scary incremental in costs as renovation goes by. It probably went like this:
“Wah bro, I tell you, go to my ID. He damn cheap damn good damn solid.”

SpongeBob//few moments later sound//audio//video - YouTube

“Eh bro, my ID charge me extra $15,000 dollars leh.”

PROBABLY. (okay we may have exaggerated a bit.)

So what’s up with the extra charges? Let us try our best to explain.

First thing first, be sure to read our posts on what to look out for in a quotation. (Spoilers alert, we might do a part 3)

In a nutshell, variation orders are works that are NOT included in the initial contract. For example, halfway into the renovation, you decided to add an extra wardrobe. Or you decided to remove a shoe cabinet because you saw something online and decide to buy off the shelf instead.

In our opinion, above mentioned examples are reasonable variation orders. However, we have heard stories of unreasonable variation orders, that sometime results in massive extra charges. What are some unreasonable variation orders?

We have heard stories where if you wanted extra drawers in the kitchen, they gonna charge you! Ranging from 50 – 200 dollars per drawer! If we are not mistaken, other IDs usually cater for 3 drawers in the kitchen only, regardless of how big your kitchen is. Hello????? that’s crazy. Another reason why we think design should be finalised first before committing to a price! Once the design has been confirmed, pricing will be more accurate, reducing variation orders. Because we will then be able to calculate exactly how much hardware is needed for your design.

Another insane story: our friend’s ID wanted to charge extra for painting the ceiling another colour! What! Because the typical charges for painting works does not include coloured paint for ceiling. IDs & contractors out there only use Nippon Matex white (& Dulux equivalent) for ceiling paint only. Reason being Matex is the lowest grade of paint. Hence IDs & contractors use it for ceiling, an area that is not touchable by hand. Here @ Salt, we use at least Nippon Vinilex 5000 (or Dulux equivalent) for ceiling as well! How do we ensure that? Easy, we never use white paint. Yep, NEVER. (unless specified by homeowners).

These are just 2 of the more unreasonable examples that we have heard of. Do you know any? If you do, please feel free to contact us & share with us your stories!

So how do we go about avoiding variation orders? *Disclaimer, we are not saying we do not have variation orders here at Salt.*

Be extremely clear of the quotation that you are presented. There are questions that you can ask your ID to help you better understand what you are getting. Some of the questions are:

“What is the price range of laminate I can pick from?”
“What is the tile price & size that you are quoting me? How much is the increment if I want a bigger / smaller format tiles?”
“What brand & series of quartz / table top will I be able to pick from?”
“Will there by any extra charges if I want more drawers instead of doors?”
“Where are the areas that might cause an increment in price?”

Of course there are many more questions that you could be asking us to help keep increments to a minimum. Do hit us up if you need help / advise! Always willing to help.

What should you do during renovation?

The renovation process can be very tiresome for many people. Our job as Interior designer is to ease that workload for you also. We have been telling owners to sit back & relax and let us do our job, at the same time, we would love it if owners are more involved and committed as well. So, here we will talk about what should owners be doing.

  1. Relax!

First thing first, relax! Here at Salt, all our designers are qualified to not only produce outstanding designs, we also know what we are doing during construction phase. Proper construction drawings will be produced and discussed thoroughly with you prior to construction. Then leave the rest up to us. Rest assured that drawings will be communicated clearly to our contractors to ensure things as built as planned.

2. Occasional Site visits.

Almost all the time, job sites are incredibly dirty, dusty & noisy. We understand that you are excited and looking forward to moving into your dream home asap. However, for your safety, please try your best to do site visits at night or over the weekends! We would hate it if you stepped on some random nails / staple lying around! There will be some exceptions when we would require your presence on site, especially when we need to confirm certain positioning (eg, toilet accessories). For that, designer in charge will inform you in advance!

3. Communicate!

We love it when home owners pester us with questions. If there is something you are unsure of, please feel free to contact the designer in charge, please. Talk to us, tell us what you want and need, tell us what you dislike too! If we are failing to meet your expectations, please let us know! If we are exceeding your expectations, please let us know too! Everybody loves a compliment now & then. (:

4. Be Patient.

Hiccups during renovation are inevitable, as much as we try our best to prevent them from happening. We seek your understanding for unforeseen circumstances. We also experienced situations when jobs were not completed, and homeowners were complaining about incomplete works and/or subpar works. Many times defects can be, and will be, rectified before handing over the home back to you. There will be times whereby we overlook certain items. We really appreciate home owners letting us know where are the areas that we can improve!

5. Take photos!

Take plenty of photos! Share them with your friends via Instagram or Facebook. Just be sure to tag us! We always love a before & after comparison!

How we apply 60-30-10.

There are many “rules” when it comes to designing an interior space. We are not saying that we should always apply these rules to an interior space. Of course there will be exceptions.

Personally, we find the most important rule to be the 60-30-10 rule. What does it mean? Your space should contain 60% of your dominant colour choice, 30% secondary colour choice, and 10% of an accent colour.

In this project, the 60% dominant colour is actually the Ash colour that is very strong within the entire house. We made use of the existing floor hue, and picked a similar laminate texture & colour which, at the same time, must be coherent with the general concept of the space.

Next, the 30% secondary colour of choice was a textured grey laminate. We chose grey because we wanted to add a touch of modern look into the space. The dining table & set are of similar hue to the laminate picked.

The 10% of accent colour we chose is actually a bright yellow / gold hue. We wanted it to compliment the 60% dominant colour, at the same time it stands out as an accent colour. Also the gold adds a sens of luxury into the space.

How we work!

Different designers have their own preferred working method. Here @ Salt, we like to go old school: Hand sketching! Thou we dont have the best drawing skills, but hey, as long as we communicate the idea, right? Below is our process!

Below is our initial hand sketch! This is what we show our visualiser. He will then take the below drawing to generate life-like renderings.

Below is the rendering! So once the client has approved the 3D Drawing, we will proceed to do the detailed 2D drawing.

Below is the end product!

Pretty cool, eh?

Red flags to look out when appointing an Interior Designer!

Throughout our career, we have had feedback from our lost clients that they regret appointing the designer that they did. When we dug deeper and found out why, we realised most of the times was due to over-promising from the designer during the preliminary phase. Here, we area going to look at what are some of the common ‘over-promises’, also look into some potential red flags.

“Can!”. Is a most common over promise we have heard. When a designer answer quickly without much hesitation, you should challenge the designer and find out how they are going to tackle the issue you have. We admit, we do agree to some requests promptly. However, when challenged, we are able to provide a valid solutions. We enjoy being challenged by our clients, because then we are able to showcase our knowledge & experience.

When faced with an issue that we have no immediate solution to, we will inform our clients that we are unable to think of a solution now. We will then brainstorm as a team to find various solutions, if possible.

Refusal to provide a schedule! As home owners, you should be aware of what is happening to your home, and when. We have had clients who had experience with designers who refused to provide schedule. End up, they had to deal with major delay in handing over. When dealing with tight deadlines, it is imperative to have a schedule!

Here @ Salt, when we are unable to meet the deadline, we will choose not to take up the project instead.

Unclear quotation! We have discussed in our earlier blog posts on what to look out for in quotations. Please be on high alert!

You should always have questions when it comes to quotation! Be sure of what you are paying for, what is included & what is not. More commonly, we have heard designers charging extra for drawers as the construction goes by. You should ask if there will be certain surcharge if you need extra drawers, if so, how much would each cost!

How to achieve a good working relationship with your designer

As interior designers, we treat every project like our own home. We want the best for all our clients. However, thanks to some black sheep in the industry, many owners tend to think that we are constantly up-selling them.

We will share our opinion on how you can achieve a better working relationship with your designer.

Firstly, we feel that having a certain level of chemistry is one of the main reason we work so well with our home owners. We are looking out for home owners who are honest & straight forward. If they do not like our initial proposal, they voice it out directly. And you should do that too. A well trained designer will find out more about you & your preference, instead of insisting that their design is ‘right for you’. At the same time, setting a sense of honesty allows us to be upfront further down the road.

What this does is setting a standard which will be expected by you. If you are concern about being ‘rude’ or ‘insensitive’, stop it. It is your home. End of the day, it will be YOU who will be living in it.

Trust your designer. We understand that trust should be earned. If your designer do not seem trustworthy initially, why are you working with him/her in the first place? We assume you are going to appoint someone you trust, please have faith in your decision. (Unless red flags start to pop out going into the renovation).

If you do not understand anything that the designer mentioned, please ask. Ask for a second opinion, a third opinion, a forth opinion. Ask your friends who recently went thru a renovation. You can ask us too. We are more than happy to help.

Look out for companies reviews & the portfolio. If the portfolio is not to your liking, feel free to reject them. It is very important that both of you have the same design sense.

There are many other factors that can contribute to a healthy working relationship with your designer. We like to conclude that the main factors are: 1. Chemistry. 2. Trust. 3. Honesty between both parties. 4. Similar design sense.